TIRED OF LOOKING for heroes in the day's news? Are you less than inspired by political candidates, striking football players and wealthy rock stars? Stay closer to home and you are more likely to find men and women worthy of praise and emulation. Certainly there were plenty at Field Two in Montgomery County's Olney Manor Park last summer at every game of the Pioneer Beep Softball League for the Blind.
The just-concluded series by Post reporter Neil Henry and photographer James Thresher has been deeply moving. It not only focused on the courage of some blind athletes. It also reflected the goodness of a whole group of adults who have brightened the lives of these children: organizers, coaches and volunteers who work for no reward but the joy of the children. And there are the parents, coping, struggling, encouraging, loving. Heroes all, one of their number stands out.
Fourteen years ago, Diane Miller had all the strikes against her. She was a 16-year-old welfare mother, single, black, unemployed and uneducated. Her family rejected her, and her 21/2-pound baby, Greg, was blind. Most of us with far less to worry about would have given in to despair. But not this woman. She got training and a job through the federally funded WIN program -- a program, by the way, the administration wants to abolish. She earned a high school diploma, took a couple of years of college courses, and today she's an assistant supervisor in the pathology lab at Bethesda Naval Hospital. She owns her own home, volunteers at church and at a local nursing home, is a Big Sister to another child and, throughout all this, has provided a loving and secure home for her son.
This country is full of people like Diane Miller and the others on that softball field. Their heroism is special. It is not a matter of a single dramatic moment but rather of entire lives of dignity and inner strength. This kind of heroism can be found in many neighborhoods, and nowhere more visibly than among handicapped children and the people who work and play with them.